The internationally renowned arts consultant, Michael Kaiser, has issued a report on the Philadelphia Orchestra. Although we have signed a confidentiality agreement regarding his report, Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer has written about its contents.
Holly Blake, Philadelphia Orchestra Contrabassonist and member of the Orchestra Negotiating Committee, discusses Mr. Dobrin's article.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has historically enjoyed its elite reputation among the top five US orchestras. Now, according to a recent June 24, 2016 article by Norman Lebrecht in his Slipped Disc blog titled ‘The New Big Five”, the Philadelphia Orchestra has slid to the 7th slot, as determined by current budget rankings, among their peer orchestras. With their current contract set to expire on September 11, 2016, the musicians are concerned about how this will impact their ability to attract and retain the most talented musicians.
A report by Michael Kaiser on the potential for the Philadelphia Orchestra Association to achieve a financial turnaround has recently been completed. This report by the highly respected arts consultant and author was requested by the Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians in a compromise one year contract settlement, according to a July 4, 2016 philly.com article by music critic Peter Dobrin, “in order to examine why, four years after exiting bankruptcy, the association still had not generated enough earned and contributed revenue to eliminate more of the concessions musicians gave in the Chapter 11 case.” Dobrin’s article references Kaiser's positive and common sense findings which the musicians feel could potentially support their case for greater earned and contributed revenue of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and ultimately a contract and a ranking more in line with their peer orchestras.
According to Mr Dobrin, Mr. Kaiser’s report includes recommendations of improving “inadequate marketing and education programs that, if grown, would lure more donations and listeners in both the short and long terms.” In addition, Mr. Dobrin writes that the report includes inspiring and diversifying the board, increasing the orchestra’s relevance in the city, cultivating national and international donors and “bringing on donors at differing wealth levels…including people who better represent the city’s industry, demographics, and artistic and intellectual sectors,” as well as organizing special projects which would attract younger patrons. “Donors are motivated by excitement, not crisis,” says Kaiser, according to Dobrin.
Dobrin also includes the following quote from Michael Kaiser. “I am at heart deeply optimistic about the future of this orchestra. It is one of the great performing ensembles in the world. It has an important place in Philadelphia but even also in other countries, and there is a true opportunity for this organization to be not just stable but also thriving. I am hopeful that if some version of this plan is implemented that this is an organization that will be able to perform at the very top of its game for years to come.”
Below are the links to the cited articles by Peter Dobrin “Report: Orchestra must grow audience, donor base, communication skills” and Norman Lebrecht “The New Big Five”
Suggested Reading- Michael M. Kaiser’s “The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations”
Be sure to save the date -- on October 4, 2016, we will be presenting our second annual Audience Appreciation Concerts -- free music throughout the community!
As we end our season with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, we look forward to the successful conclusion of our contract negotiations, and a wonderful season starting in September. We look forward to seeing you!